The health of local tourism employees: a challenge for travel medicine. The case of the Inca Trail porters

Bauer, Irmgard (2002) The health of local tourism employees: a challenge for travel medicine. The case of the Inca Trail porters. In: Posters from the 4th Asia Pacific Travel Health Conference. From: 4th Asia Pacific Travel Health Conference, 20-23 October 2002, Shanghai, China.

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Background: Trekking forms part of the increasing adventure and outdoor tourism. High altitude trekking in the Himalayas or the Andes has been popular for some time. For longer treks, porters are employed to carry the necessary equipment. Porters' working conditions have been known to be poor and the health problems considerable. While Himalayan porters have received some attention, porters on the popular Inca Trail in Peru have been neglected. In light of the growing awareness of health problems of local tourism employees, the purpose of this study was to describe Inca Trail porters' working conditions and their related health status.

Method: In August 2001, 101 Inca Trail porters were interviewed.

Results: Porters were aged 17 to 68 years, their estimated body weight was 50 to 76kg. The usual portering job lasts for four days with 9-10 hours of carrying per day. The estimated weight of the loads ranged from 20 to 45 kg. Major concerns were the lack of fuel, clothes, shelter and equipment, but foremost the lack of sufficient food provisions. A third described their general health as poor or very poor and attributed this to their work. Health complaints included respiratory infections, kidney problems or rheumatism. Thirty eight porters recalled injuries while on the trail and over 90% had fallen ill on the job with cold, 'majurki', and stomach pain due to lack of food or cold food named most often. Porters' demands for improvement included increased pay, and appropriate and sufficient food.

Conclusions: The porters' working conditions and subsequent health problems need to be addressed. A range of stakeholders is responsible for the porters' conditions. Specific responsibility for health care lies with travel health professionals, together with the local health authorities, since the health of host communities has been acknowledged as an important area within Travel Medicine.

Item ID: 22347
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
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Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2012 05:03
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111716 Preventive Medicine @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920599 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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